Mayor Becker and City Council Respond to Prison Relocation Decision

Mayor Ralph Becker and the Salt Lake City Council are extremely disappointed by the Utah Legislature’s decision Wednesday to relocate the prison to Salt Lake City without adequately exploring or addressing the myriad and serious concerns and issues associated with this site.  

This decision demonstrates a disregard for the residents of Salt Lake City, and will continue to overburden the west side of our community with a hugely disproportionate share of the state’s correctional facilities. 

As the consultant’s study has confirmed, the Salt Lake City site is the most expensive and most challenging site for construction of a prison.  Based upon the City’s detailed analysis, the Legislature has formed a decision based on seriously underestimated costs for extending roads and utilities to the site.  In addition, the state’s own research results verify that the site under consideration contains soft and collapsible soils, extending as far as 125 feet below the surface.  Given the high water table in this area, the costs required to build on this quicksand-like soil will be significant, and the actual costs for the prison facility may be as much as $30 million higher than those projected. 

The state’s analysis also failed to address any of the additional expense (which could exceed $100 million) and potential delays associated with the environmental issues that exist in this area.   Furthermore, the Legislative Fiscal Analyst greatly overestimated the projected operational savings because the 50-year projections were built on the basis of current conditions and failed to account for any of the changes that will occur over that the next five decades that would impact those costs.

Following today’s decision, Mayor Becker and the Council will continue to explore all of the options available to oppose this decision, including the consideration of any available political and legal remedies.